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SECOND EPISTLE TO J. LAPRAIK

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Or is't the paughty feudal thane,
Wi' ruff'd sark an' glancing cane,
Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane,
But lordly stalks;

While caps and bonnets aff are taen,
As by he walks?

"O Thou wha gies us each guid gift!
Gie me o' wit an' sense a lift,

Then turn me, if thou please, adrift
Thro' Scotland wide;

Wi' cits nor lairds I wadna shift,

In a' their pride!"

Were this the charter of our state,
"On pain o' hell be rich an' great,"
Damnation then would be our fate,
Beyond remead;

But, thanks to heaven, that's no the gate
We learn our creed.

For thus the royal mandate ran,
When first the human race began;
"The social, friendly, honest man,
Whate'er he be-

'Tis he fulfils great Nature's plan,
And none but he."

O mandate glorious and divine!
The ragged followers o' the Nine,1

Poor, thoughtless devils! yet may shine

In glorious light,

While sordid sons o' Mammon's line

Are dark as night!

⚫ proud.

1 Burns consistently wrote printed "The followers o' the ragged

and

Nine." The correction, due to Mother well, seems a plausible one.

Tho' here they scrape, an' squeeze, an' growl,
Their worthless nievefu' of a soul

May in some future carcase howl,

The forest's fright;

Or in some day-detesting owl

May shun the light.

Then may Lapraik and Burns arise,1
To reach their native, kindred skies,
And sing their pleasures, hopes an' joys,
In some mild sphere;

Still closer knit in friendship's ties,
Each passing year!

Epistle to William Simson.2

SCHOOLMASTER, OCHILTREE.-MAY 1785.
I GAT your letter, winsome Willie ;
Wi' gratefu' heart I thank you brawlie;b
Tho' I maun say't, I wad be silly,
And unco vain,

Should I believe, my coaxin billie
Your flatterin strain.

But I'se believe ye kindly meant it:
I sud be laith to think ye hinted
Ironic satire, sidelins sklented d

On my poor Musie;

Tho' in sic phraisin terms ye've penn'd it,
I scarce excuse ye.

⚫ handful. b heartily.

• fellow.

1 Originally this line gave the fuller form of the poet's name :

"Lapraik and Burness then may rise And reach," &c.

2 An example of Burns's modesty. He has certainly left Gilbertfield behind (who was a writer on his favourite hero, William Wallace), and more or less eclipsed the "deathless name of young Fergusson. It is probable that

"

a directed sideways. ⚫ flattering. the "E'nbrugh gentry" with their "whunstane hearts" never heard of that enfant perdu, who died in a madhouse (Oct. 16, 1774). His tomb, in Canongate kirkyard, was erected at the expense of Burns, who gloried in being his pupil. As a boy, Scott thought that Burns over-rated Fergusson, a generous error if an error it was.

EPISTLE TO WILLIAM SIMSON

My senses wad be in a creel,a
Should I but dare a hope to speelb
Wi' Allan,1 or wi' Gilbertfield,2

The braes o' fame;

Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,
A deathless name.

(O Fergusson! thy glorious parts
İll suited law's dry, musty arts!
My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
Ye E'nbrugh gentry!

The tithe o' what ye waste at cartes
Wad stow'd his pantry!)

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Yet when a tale comes i' my head,
Or lassies gie my heart a screed -
As whiles they're like to be my dead,
(O sad disease!)

I kittled up my rustic reed;

e

It gies me ease.

Auld Coila now may fidge fu' fain,1

She's gotten poets o' her ain;

Chiels wha their chanters winna hain,g

But tune their lays,

Till echoes a' resound again

Her weel-sung praise.

Nae poet thought her worth his while,
To set her name in measur'd style;
She lay like some unkenn'd-of isle

Beside New Holland,

Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
Besouth Magellan.

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Ramsay an' famous Fergusson
Gied Forth an' Tay a lift aboon";
Yarrow an' Tweed, to monie a tune,
Owre Scotland rings;

While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an' Doon
Naebody sings.

Th' Illissus, Tiber, Thames, an' Seine,
Glide sweet in monie a tunefu' line:
But, Willie, set your fit to mine,

An' cock your crest;

We'll gar our streams an' burnies shine
Up wi' the best!

We'll sing auld Coila's plains an' fells,
Her moors red-brown wi' heather bells,
Her banks an' braes, her dens and dells,
Whare glorious Wallace
Aft bure the gree,b as story tells,

Frae Suthron billies.

At Wallace' name, what Scottish blood
But boils up in a spring-tide flood!
Oft have our fearless fathers strode
By Wallace' side,

Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,
Or glorious died!

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O sweet are Coila's haughs an' woods,
When lintwhitesd chant amang the buds,
And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,

Their loves enjoy;

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EPISTLE TO WILLIAM SIMSON

Ev'n winter bleak has charms to me,
When winds rave thro' the naked tree;
Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree

Are hoary gray ;

Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee,

Dark'ning the day!

O Nature! a' thy shews an' forms
To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!
Whether the summer kindly warms,
Wi' life an' light;

Or winter howls, in gusty storms,
The lang, dark night!

The muse, nae poet ever fand her,
Till by himsel he learn'd to wander,
Adown some trottin burn's meander,
An' no think lang :

O sweet to stray, an' pensive ponder
A heart-felt sang!

The war'ly race may drudge an' drive,
Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an' strive;
Let me fair Nature's face descrive,b
And I, wi' pleasure,

Shall let the busy, grumbling hive

Bum owre their treasure.

Fareweel, "my rhyme-composing" brither!
We've been owre lang unkenn'd to ither:
Now let us lay our heads thegither,

In love fraternal:

May envy wallop in a tether,

Black fiend, infernal!

While Highlandmen hate tolls an' taxes;
While moorlan' herds like guid, fat braxies";

• push and jostle.

b describe.

• dead sheep.

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